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Categories > Mental and Emotional Health > Relationships

Betting your life on it:
A gambler’s ride
Getting help

Do you have a gambling problem?
Do you have a gambling problem?

If you answer yes to two or more of the following questions, talk to your healthcare provider. Help is available.

  • Do you lie to yourself and others about the time or money you’ve spent gambling?
  • Have you tried to cut back on gambling but failed?
  • Do you “borrow” money originally intended for bills to support your habit?
  • Do you spend a large amount of time thinking about gambling or how to improve your game?
  • Do you get visibly excited or agitated when you think or talk about the “rush” of gambling?
  • Do you gamble when you are upset or depressed, thinking it will change your mood?
  • Have you ever done, or considered doing, anything illegal to obtain money for gambling?
  • Does your gambling cause you to fight with your family or friends about money, time or general attitude?
  • When you lose money at gambling, do you continually try to win it back?
  • Have you missed any social, occupational or recreational opportunities because of gambling?

During the past year, millions of adults have bought a lottery ticket, visited casinos or bet on a sports game. Although most of them enjoyed the rush of the potential win, at the end of the day, it was only a game. But about 2 million Americans aren’t that lucky. For them, gambling is an addiction. And, like drug abuse or alcoholism, it can destroy a person’s career, self-worth, family and bank account.

Compulsive gambling is a disease that can be cured. If you recognize the following behavior in yourself or someone you know, get help.

A gambler’s ride

Gambling is like a roller coaster. When you are winning you are on top of the world. You are energetic and optimistic.

Then your losses begin outweighing your wins. You adjust your schedule to make more time for gambling. As the bank account slowly depletes, credit-card debt increases. Family relations are strained, and your career is threatened.

Then you get desperate. Illegal acts may be necessary to finance your addiction. In fact, you do little else but gamble. Families are torn apart, and emotional breakdowns are prevalent.

Getting help

Playing the lottery or bingo, betting on horses, even playing the stock market constitutes gambling. Read the sidebar to determine whether you or someone you know has a gambling problem. Most treatment programs involve complete abstinence and support groups, such as Gamblers Anonymous. Call the Nationwide Hotline at 1-800-522-4700 for help.